Talk Hole: White Hole Summer
Talk Hole is the bi-weekly spoken column of New York’s alt-comedy darlings Eric Schwartau and Steven Phillips-Horst, offering their oracular powers of cultural analysis on all corners of the zeitgeist (high, low, top, bottom). From a Zoom call in Brooklyn, Schwartau and P-H (as Steven is lovingly referred) prove talk is chic and drop references to hot trends, hotter temperatures, and scalding political debates. This time around, Talk Hole gears up for the summer of New York City: masks are off, the mayoral race is on, and everyone is getting #YangGanged.
[Background voice] Tax, as opposed to, or, in addition to, our property taxes went up…
ERIC SCHWARTAU: Are you at a community board meeting?
STEVEN P-H: Sorry, I was cramming for this session by watching a video of Dianne Morales. I’m looking forward to sharing my extremely informed views on the NYC mayoral race.
SCHWARTAU: I found it rude when you asked me to study up on the candidates. You said, “We’re looking for opinions and hot takes,” as if I’m just a contestant in your little column race.
P-H: A column is always a race. It’s a friendly competition that you aim to finish as quickly as possible.
SCHWARTAU: Gentlemen, start your engines. And may the best columnist win!
P-H: I’m nervous to speak. The slightest thing could set you off. You’re ready to blow.
SCHWARTAU: I’m an instant pot filled with shrapnel.
P-H: Just like Northern Ireland. Did you hear the IRA is back?
SCHWARTAU: You’re the first to tell me. I guess I’m not on their mailing list.
P-H: It’s in Gaelic so maybe it went to your spam filter.
SCHWARTAU: “Gaylic”—isn’t that a dying language?
P-H: It’s transitioning to “Queer-lic.”
SCHWARTAU: So the Catholics and Protestants are fighting again. This is news?
P-H: Well, Brexit is making it harder to cross the border, which does feel very contemporary and “you’re not on the list” vibes.
SCHWARTAU: New York’s hottest club is… Northern Ireland.
P-H: There’s a lot of sectarian violence once you get past the bouncer.
SCHWARTAU: Catholic muscle gays vs. Protestant ketamine theys.
P-H: My sense is these places grappling with independence and self-determination—Northern Ireland, Catalan, Scotland—will be irrelevant battles pretty soon. We’re heading towards a global corporate hegemony where everyone is stateless, and Google or Facebook’s Terms of Service are the only laws that matter.
SCHWARTAU: We’re either debt-exposed, testosterone-boosted Tesla crash test dummies or ambiently-enslaved Netflix junkies watching a doc on Tesla’s poor safety record thinking it counts as activism.
P-H: Test-watching a Netflix original series about Irish Amazon workers who decide to stop being mad at Protestants so they can meet their shipping quotas.
SCHWARTAU: And they did it all without a union!
P-H: I will confide that most of my knowledge of The Troubles comes from Derry Girls.
SCHWARTAU: I’ll always remember when the IRA assassinated Lord Mountbatten in 1979.
P-H: With a name like that, you’re kind of asking for it.
SCHWARTAU: If you’re high on your “mount”? Honey, take several steps down.
P-H: At the very least, you’re asking to be mounted.
SCHWARTAU: Speaking of getting mounted, did you see Colton Underwood from The Bachelor came out?
P-H: Statistically, it was bound to happen.
SCHWARTAU: “Bachelor” has been code for gay for a long time. An unmarried man over a certain age with a chic, modernist “pad”? You’re either gay or a serial killer—your family doesn’t care which one, but either way, you’re out of the will.
P-H: After a certain amount of weeks living in a mansion with 16 women and not fucking them you start to wonder… what’s this guy’s deal?
SCHWARTAU: Right. Why are all his roommates girls? Why is he always surrounded by women? In high school, that meant gay.
P-H: The Bachelor franchise’s idea of women is definitely a gay man’s idea of women: Barbie dolls in evening gowns who can’t bend their knees or elbows.
SCHWARTAU: I like the idea of Colton telling the producer how to arrange the girls in the mansion. “Okay, now put Stacy and Katie together in the dressing room to comb each other’s hair, have Tammy meet Courtney for afternoon cokes in her convertible, and let’s just lock Rachel in the bathroom.”
P-H: And the only way they can interact is sort of banging their bodies against each other.
SCHWARTAU: That sounds like when I went—as a chaperone, of course—to this midnight gay orgy at [redacted location] last week.
P-H: Was Colton there?
SCHWARTAU: It was very dark, so I’m not sure. It was right in the middle of [redacted location] but it was completely silent. All you could hear was the wind in the trees, and the occasional performative moan—no well drinks, no “yass queen,” no yelling in someone’s ear over Drag Race: All Stars remixes. Honestly, it was beautiful.
P-H: The silence is important because then the mayor doesn’t have to come down and say, “Hey kids, knock it off! Mom’s trying to sleep.” You give dad plausible deniability.
SCHWARTAU: And a lot of dads were actually there.
P-H: Cruising is so important to a properly functioning society. It requires a confrontation with fear that our layers of technology and avatars and passwords are so keen to stamp out. Fear of violence. Rejection. Errant fingernail scratches. Someone turning out to be less hot in the light of day. You have no choice but to face those fears. It’s liberating.
SCHWARTAU: There’s an ordered chaos to cruising, unlike the chaotic order of regular life. There’s a spiritual element—a guiding purpose and a heightened sensory experience. And cum.
P-H: And thank god we don’t have to wear masks anymore.
SCHWARTAU: Or condoms?
P-H: Our emotional walls are finally crumbling.
SCHWARTAU: Mine are still up. I did a lot of renovations during the pandemic.
P-H: Cruising is back. The Troubles are back. Cocaine is back. It’s 1986 all over again!
SCHWARTAU: AIDS is back—we both just got that Sarah Schulman book on Act Up, Let The Record Show, thanks to our friends at Farrar, Straus & Giroux publishing.
P-H: It’s quite simply a huge book.
SCHWARTAU: Thicker than anything I’ve seen.
P-H: Even at the orgy?
P-H: Didn’t Sarah Shulman write Conflict is Not Abuse?
SCHWARTAU: Yes, and a thick book is not abuse.
P-H: Depends on what you do with it.
SCHWARTAU: I’m bringing mine to cruise in the park. Holding a book is code that you’re gay and bored. In fact, I hooked up with a guy I met on a plane because he was reading The Ethical Slut.
P-H: You hooked up on the airplane?
SCHWARTAU: It’s actually not ethical to have sex on a plane because it holds up the bathroom line. We went to his hotel in WeHo.
P-H: Now, how thick was that book?
SCHWARTAU: It’s not the size that matters—it’s the eye-catching title.
P-H: I was in Central Park recently during the all-ages shift, and there were aspiring influencers parked in front of every single cherry blossom tree—armed to the teeth with selfie sticks, makeup kits, tripods, ASOS dresses in bright colors that’ll read on camera. They were ready for social media war.
SCHWARTAU: People really think they invented spring. They act like they’re in the group show at a blossom launch.
P-H: Interrogating spring by contextualizing their work within the square crop of Instagram.
SCHWARTAU: Tik-Tokking the Trees: How Gen Z is Redefining Nature and Revolutionizing Nurture.
P-H: I saw one mom creative directing her six-year-old daughter. “Okay now, give me arm. More arm!” This poor Kindergarten nodal was just dangling off a cherry tree. We’re starting them very young.
SCHWARTAU: What I’ve learned from having a dog for three weeks is that you have to start training early. Sit. Stay. Lengthen. Find your light. Good girl.
P-H: Now I know why George Washington chopped down that cherry tree. His influencer daughter was too busy taking selfies in front of it.
SCHWARTAU: Speaking of politics, I want to talk about the mayor’s race.
P-H: It’s finally time for a new dad.
SCHWARTAU: It’s finally time for Ranked Choice Voting!
P-H: If there’s anything Drag Race fans are good at, it’s ranking people.
SCHWARTAU: If we’re going to make a day of it, we might as well get more bubbles to fill out. We could rank them in different categories—charisma, uniqueness, resource management, police defundment, etc…
P-H: I’d love to vote for Miss Congeniality. There should be a mini challenge and a maxi challenge.
SCHWARTAU: I think City Council is the mini challenge.
P-H: So who’s in your final four?
SCHWARTAU: I’ve basically only heard of Yang.
P-H: That seems to be the trend. People have heard of him.
SCHWARTAU: It’s so convenient to have heard of someone.
P-H: Building a national profile with a presidential campaign just to come down to some local office with all this name ID is admittedly a smart strategy.
SCHWARTAU: I hope he knows this is his last stop on the campaign trail. You don’t go anywhere after being Mayor of NYC. It’s a real dead end. You make a lot of enemies.
P-H: What about Guiliani? He went to Ukraine. I’m sure that was fun.
SCHWARTAU: And poor de Blasio. He tried to leave early and got sent right back.
P-H: At least he’s still tall.
SCHWARTAU: How tall is Andrew Yang? He has a very big neck. That sort of implies height.
P-H: Judging by neck vibes alone, I’d say 5’10”. That’s what Reddit says as well, but it’s not official.
SCHWARTAU: I love that even in an age of satellite photography, his height is still speculation.
P-H: So you’re voting for him?
SCHWARTAU: I like his plan to send one New Yorker to Mars per week by 2022. I appreciate that type of forward thinking.
P-H: Only one a week? We’ll need to pick up the pace if we want to clear out all the influencers.
SCHWARTAU: Andrew Yang represents my own interests as a fellow former founder of a company that’s not real and is now just a column.
P-H: Andrew Yang represents your interests, which include people knowing who you are and moving backwards in your career.
SCHWARTAU: It’s very endearing that he acts like an alien who’s just discovering what bananas and bodegas are.
P-H: But does he really enjoy it? One of my problems with my old boss Bill de Blasio is that he’s very smart but obviously not that into being mayor. Bloomberg was a bitchy bully who had a real disdain for the people of New York. Most liberal politicians come off as egghead scolds. I think it’s time for someone who genuinely enjoys the vibe of mayoring. Which is why I am drawn to another former boss of mine, Scott Stringer, who conveniently for the relevancy of this column, was just Me Too’d.
SCHWARTAU: So are you against him now?
P-H: Well, he never touched me, so I’m definitely feeling left out.
SCHWARTAU: Right, to be a politician you either need to touch everyone, or no one. That’s why Elizabeth Warren did the selfie line—managed and documented mass-touching.
P-H: It’s interesting that his accuser says she was an intern on his campaign and he says she was 30 at the time. That seems like something you could fact-check.
SCHWARTAU: Okay, I’m fact-checking whether an intern can be 30.
P-H: The reality of local New York races is literally no one votes in them, so unless this scandal balloons it might not even matter either way. If anything, I should be biased against him—I was fresh out of college and he paid me a $21,000 annual salary. I worked 10 hour days, six days a week. One time I organized a fundraiser in the Hamptons for him and he admonished me for having a glass of wine while I was gathering checks. And I raised $20k that night! Now that I think about it, I’m pissed.
SCHWARTAU: Let the gays have their grigio.
P-H: But I’m sorry, Andrew Yang is a carpetbagger. His connection to New York is so inauthentic. He’s like if the Taylor Swift song “Welcome to New York” ran for mayor.
SCHWARTAU: I would vote for “Delicate” if it ran for mayor.
P-H: I would vote for “exile (feat. Bon Iver).”
SCHWARTAU: Which would make Bon Iver the First Lady?
P-H: Yes, and just like Chirlane, he’ll direct the city’s mental health initiative. Sad indie guitar for all those who are struggling.
SCHWARTAU: It just seems like Yang is the only one making waves. There’s a lot of progressives trying to ride the AOC train, but no one is giving me that star power.
P-H: There’s Maya Wiley who’s a professor at The New School, which is truly the last thing we need. Another Warren-esque schoolmarm telling us what to do, sending every infraction up the HR chain of command.
SCHWARTAU: I feel like she’s referenced “Zoom fatigue” an impeachable number of times.
P-H: I could get into Dianne Morales—her positions seem fine—but she comes from that messy non-profit world. Lots of moral superiority and grant proposals, but where’s the money, honey? Where’s the power? Where’s the glam?
SCHWARTAU: It’s in L.A.
P-H: Which brings us to Caitlyn Jenner’s run for governor.
SCHWARTAU: Jesus take the wheel. Like, actually, please take control of her Chevy Tahoe this second.
P-H: That amazing campaign ad you created—where you spliced together Caitlyn’s reality show promo with the Lana music video—really made me wanna vote for her. Wafting through a Malibu beach house before blowing up a helicopter with a bazooka is exactly what a governor should do.
SCHWARTAU: She should really tap into her Lana side.
P-H: Just like Lana, Caitlyn is an icon of isolation. Even when she was Bruce she was always off somewhere else in the Kardashian mansion, grumpy, alone, antagonized, in a golf shirt. I mean, what’s lonelier than golf?
SCHWARTAU: Her politics are classic 90s grumpy old man—fiscally conservative and socially liberal. But she actually needs to switch it up. Socially trad and fiscally reckless.
P-H: I agree. Let’s make it rain subsidies for mass transit, but keep sexuality binary. I feel like she’s very “you should only be a woman if you can pay for it, sweetheart.”
SCHWARTAU: Same goes for running for governor.
P-H: Speaking of California…
SCHWARTAU: Hashtag #oscarssoboring.
P-H: Did you watch? I didn’t see you live-tweeting.
SCHWARTAU: The whole show felt like a live tweet—hastily constructed, obscure references, very few likes. I had no idea what was going on.
P-H: I kept waiting for them to mention a movie I’d seen, or heard of, or a friend’s roommate had read an article about, but nothing recognizable materialized.
SCHWARTAU: I just read the article that inspired Nomadland about roving bands of seniors living in RVs, working $12 per hour seasonal jobs at Amazon warehouses who will never be able to afford to retire.
P-H: Retirement is for suckers. Imagine if Anthony Hopkins had retired before making The Father.
SCHWARTAU: I still wouldn’t have seen the movie.
P-H: I loved that everyone thought Chadwick Boseman would win, and then Anthony Hopkins wins for a movie no one’s ever heard of, and not only is he not in the room, but he doesn’t even Zoom in. He’s asleep at his cottage in Wales. He cucked us all so hard. We pathetically cared about the Oscars, desperately live-tweeting, waiting for the actor with the viral death to go viral one last time—and Anthony was like, “Girl, I’m not even awake.”
SCHWARTAU: It was a great reminder to both have a cottage and go to bed.
P-H: It’s funny that people said it was rude to Chadwick because Anthony didn’t appreciate his own win enough. I’m pretty sure the dead guy wouldn’t have appreciated it either.
SCHWARTAU: Hollywood really went headlessly woke kicking homeless people out of Union Station to host the ceremony then paying tribute to them with Nomadland.
P-H: Representation matters.
SCHWARTAU: I feel like Nomadland is probably bad based on the amount of self-congratulatory moralizing surrounding its win.
P-H: I’m sure it’s horrible. The last Oscar-winning Frances McDormand parable about American society was Three Billboards and that was the worst film I’ve ever seen in my life.
SCHWARTAU: Worse than it’s prequel, Two Billboards?
P-H: My personal Oscar will be getting rid of my quarantine love handles by following the diet Riz Ahmed went on to get shredded for The Sound of Metal, which is a movie I learned about while watching the Oscars.
SCHWARTAU: I’m going to say something a little controversial here, which is that I don’t think having a perfect body is attractive.
P-H: Wow, the brave body positive warrior. Maybe you should run for mayor, I hear there’s an opening.
SCHWARTAU: People who have really chiseled bodies are often super unapproachable, deeply boring, and not that fun in bed.
P-H: But a perfect, Riz Ahmed in The Sound of Metal body isn’t just something you get to lure NYC primary voters into your bedroom. A good body can have other benefits. For example, looking good in clothes.
SCHWARTAU: Looking good in clothes can add years to your life.
P-H: That’s what Dr. John Galliano said at the last WHO meeting.
SCHWARTAU: Which brings me to my last topic, which is that Europe will be open for business this summer!
P-H: The collective sigh of relief amongst disposable income coastal millennials is deafening.
SCHWARTAU: Earth is going to just like, tip over from how many gay guys go to Europe this summer.
P-H: She hasn’t been tested for this amount of weight. The protein powder kegs alone will push her right off her axis.
SCHWARTAU: I’m bringing my Andrew Yang-branded poppers to spread the gospel.
P-H: Getting Yang-Ganged in Greece.
SCHWARTAU: Follow my travel vlog, Greased up in Greece.
P-H: I’ll be headed to Croatia, France, Cyprus, Portugal, the WHO secret lab for my sixth vaccine, and of course Northern Ireland, where I will be fighting for both sides because, much like Andrew Yang, I believe in having fun and creating a future that brings everyone I know nothing about to the table.
SCHWARTAU: Sounds like a real Digital Nomadland, which is a movie I would actually see.
P-H: I’ll book Chloé Zhao to shoot it. It’s mostly just me in different outfits in various cities, doing my Kamala stomp.
SCHWARTAU: Can’t wait for your Belfast look.
P-H: It’ll be a custom piece that represents the two sides of war, and it’s just two different plaid shirts buttoned together.
SCHWARTAU: I think it should be more of a linguistic pun on Belfast, and you’re literally wearing bells.
P-H: And they’re moving really fast!
SCHWARTAU: They’re blowing in the air.
P-H: Just like you in the airplane lavatory.
SCHWARTAU: That’s why they call it cruising altitude.
P-H: Mask off, pants down, wheels up!
SCHWARTAU: See you in Belfast.
P-H: Cheerio. Don’t forget to vote.
SCHWARTAU: Don’t forget to rank.